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Weeks before drones turn legal, govt agencies test jammers to tackle rogue craft

The ministry of civil aviation has come up with a draft regulation allowing the use of drones for any purpose, but with certain restrictions.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2017 12:15 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Drone,Unmanned aerial vehicles,Delhi Airport
A drone employed to keep a watch over NCC cadets and school children during a yoga session on the third International Yoga Day at Kolkata Maidan earlier this year. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

With the civil aviation ministry all set to legalise the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, government agencies are testing jammers capable of disabling drones that may pose a security threat.

A device designed to block the communication system of drones is currently being tested at the Delhi airport. A chopper with Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and National Security Guard personnel aboard will also be kept as back-up to handle emergency situations.

“Although proposed civil aviation guidelines declare an area of five kilometres around the airport as a no-drone zone, violations cannot be ruled out. Drones are usually handled by an operator through a remote communication system. The device we are testing will block that communication system, after which the operator will have no control over the drone,” a CISF officer said on the condition of anonymity.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) plans to bring in a legislation to prevent the misuse of drones, especially near the airport. While the airport security force has been told to treat drones as a possible security threat, no guidelines have been issued on how to respond if such a craft is seen in the vicinity.

“At this time, drones are the biggest threat to airport security. They are sighted regularly, and – at present – there are no provisions for shooting down a flying object. The CISF provides security, but no decision has been taken on who will counter aerial threats. While the aviation ministry will regulate drone movements, the MHA has to take a call on the security aspect,” the officer said.

Sources said the MHA will issue a notification applicable for airports across the country.

The ministry of civil aviation has come up with a draft regulation allowing the use of drones for any purpose, but with certain restrictions. When asked about security concerns, aviation secretary RN Choubey said a technology was being developed to neutralise rogue drones.

The ministry has earmarked airports and international borders as no-drone zones, and stipulated that usage for commercial purposes would require special permission from the aviation regulator. However, government agencies will be exempted from these guidelines.

The Centre has invited public suggestions within 30 days, after which necessary changes will be made to legalise the use of drones by December 31.

Drones cannot fly…

• Within an area of 5 km from the airport

• Within permanently or temporarily prohibited, restricted or danger-prone areas, as notified by the Airports Authority of India.

• Over densely populated areas or near any area where emergency operations are underway, without prior approval.

• Within 50 km of the international border, and beyond 500 metres (horizontal) into sea along the coastline.

• Within 5-km radius of Vijay Chowk in Delhi.

• From mobile platforms, such as moving vehicles, ships or aircraft.

• Within 500-metre radius of military installations and strategic locations notified by the MHA.

• Over eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries without prior permission.

First Published: Nov 07, 2017 10:57 IST